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Alaska Report: Part 2

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
For the afternoon of our first flying day, we went to a ridgetop summit of a run called Crudbusters. It's NW-facing slope that was just huge. It had the afternoon sun on it and so the visibility couldn't have been better.

This is a photo of Ruth and I waiting for the helicopter in the staging area along the highway:




We got a little lesson in avi safety while skiing Crudbusters. Because that particular slope is closer to Thompson Pass than all the rest of the stuff we skied, it is also closer to the other Valdez-based heli operations. We watched an interesting thing happen shortly after our first descent of the more western shoulder of the slope.

Here's Crudbusters from the Thompson Pass highway. It's just a massive slope with a total vertical of about 3,800 feet. Our line was just on the far side of the right-hand ridgeline where the snow line meets the sky in this photo:





We skied down from the summit to a bench just out of view of the right-hand side of that photo. While we were standing there, a heli from another operation landed at the same summit we had just left. Their party skied/boarded down the small bowl just this side of the sky line in that photo. Shortly after they skied it, one of our guides ski cut the same slope but in the proper spot and released this large avalanche that completely took out the tracks of the party that had just skied the slope. It's hard to see in the photo, but the snow was still moving when I took this shot:





Despite that little bit of excitement, it was a fabulous run in great snow. The view from there was also pretty special. This is just one of the hundreds of peaks surrounding us:





After we flew back to the lodge for supper, I took a photo of the various skis being used by the guides and clients at the lodge. That place is fat ski heaven:






I also took a photo of our helicopter, affectionately known to all the staff as Greta:




And to cap off the first day, we had a beautiful display of alpenglow on the upper reaches of Mount Billy Mitchell. This photo was taken from the parking lot of the lodge:



More to come...
post #2 of 14
Very nice reports Bob. Keep em coming. That avy picture says a lot about trusting a previously skied slope. Sounds like your guide is a savy person.

Just curious which of your skinny skis you decided to take along?
post #3 of 14
Lots of K2's in that ski picture. I noticed K2's are also very popular in Utah but very few people seem to have them in the east.
post #4 of 14
Simply amazing. Wow.
post #5 of 14
In this photo:

http://www.biglines.com/photosv2/200...ines_56026.jpg

Are those K2 Axis X? I thought they are carving skis, not fat skis.
post #6 of 14
Fine TR! Love the avalanche pic.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackwan1
In this photo:

http://www.biglines.com/photosv2/200...ines_56026.jpg

Are those K2 Axis X? I thought they are carving skis, not fat skis.
I believe they are all Axis AK's or Axis AK Launchers, which if I'm not mistaken are essentially the same skis just from different model years. The AK Launcher is very much a powder ski. Very popular in Jackson Hole as well. There were also a couple of pairs of Phat Luv's.

K2's outnumbered all other brands by a long shot, with Rossi probably coming in second. Rossi is a sponsor of the lodge, so a good share of the guides and employees are on Rossi's, mostly the B4.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider

That avy picture says a lot about trusting a previously skied slope. Sounds like your guide is a savy person.

...
That's Bruce Keller. He's been guiding in the Chugach for ten winters and is also an instructor/guide here at Jackson Hole. He's also a part-owner of the lodge, along with Theo Meiners. Theo has now guided more than 5,000 helicopter-ski descents and Bruce isn't far behind him.

Theo, Bruce, and all of their guides are incredibly safety-conscious in every aspect of this skiing. As they explained it to me, you've potentially got avalanche risk, fall and/or exposure risk, glacier travel risk, and aircraft risk. They are very thorough in their safety briefings and polite but very firm about practices. They're very specific about where you must follow their instructions to the letter and where you can let it rip.

I was super impressed with the whole operation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider

Just curious which of your skinny skis you decided to take along?
Heh, heh.

I wondered if anyone would call me on that.

Yes, I used very fat skis - the 05/06 Head Supermojo. 125/102/117, 37.3 meter turn radius. Stiffer than the wing of an F-14. They were actually pretty fun.

They're the skis in the middle of this photo:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters


post #9 of 14
Hey Bob,
What's with the gun shot holes in the avy sign?
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrizzlyFD
Hey Bob,
What's with the gun shot holes in the avy sign?
It is an Alaskan thing. All signs double as targets up here.
post #11 of 14

Just being helpful...

Quote:
Originally Posted by retiredat40
It is an Alaskan thing. All signs double as targets up here.
Nah, the citizenry up here were just trying to get the avalanches out of the way before the skiers arrived. Mind-altering drugs were likely involved, hence the decision to use small-caliber arms -- and the decision to shoot at the word avalanche instead of the real thing.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by trochilids
Nah, the citizenry up here were just trying to get the avalanches out of the way before the skiers arrived. Mind-altering drugs were likely involved, hence the decision to use small-caliber arms -- and the decision to shoot at the word avalanche instead of the real thing.
Is Eagle River, AK, the same as Eagle, AK? The Eagle I'm thinking of is on the Yukon River at the east border of Alaska?

If it is, do you know Mike Potts? He and I grew up together.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by trochilids
Nah, the citizenry up here were just trying to get the avalanches out of the way before the skiers arrived. Mind-altering drugs were likely involved, hence the decision to use small-caliber arms -- and the decision to shoot at the word avalanche instead of the real thing.
Maybe they were shooting at the skiers, afterall, they are the cause of AV, not the mountain.:
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters
Is Eagle River, AK, the same as Eagle, AK? The Eagle I'm thinking of is on the Yukon River at the east border of Alaska?

If it is, do you know Mike Potts? He and I grew up together.
Sorry, Bob. Eagle River is a town about 10 miles north of Anchorage. We've lived here less than a year so I'm not familiar with the locations of many towns outside our local area. Then again, when one considers that if you superimpose Alaska on the Lower 48 it covers most of it, I guess it's understandable!

Wouldn't mind meeting you or Mike or anyone else up here, though. It's a great place!
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